Born: Fort Meade, South Dakota, 1938 Served in Vietnam, U.S. Army 3d Battalion, 44th Infantry Regiment 23d Infantry Division, and 23d Ranger Battalion, Advisory Team 44 Ban Me Thuot, Tuy Hoa, Quang Ngai Central Highlands, and coast, II and III Corps Senior Battalion Advisor, 1963-64
From the artist:
In civilized cultures there has always been an ambivalent relationship between soldiers and the society they serve. A British verse sums it up:
God and the soldier, we adore In time of danger, not before. The danger's past and all things righted, God's forgotten and the soldier slighted.
I suppose that "slighted" understates the case for the Vietnam veteran. Our reception by American society upon our return from Southeast Asia was less than hospitable and often openly hostile. Suppression became our natural coping mechanism; we never spoke of the war, we only spoke around it, if indeed we spoke at all. But the experience of going to war begs for release in some form and the suppressed emotions will surface in one way or another. In my case, sculptural images are sparked by the war experience; they arc across the minefield of memory like tracers. They hold me hostage, controlling my waking and sleeping hours, until I am compelled to deal with them. Sometimes the art flows effortlessly, like whistling. Usually not.
Some images never do coalesce. I work and rework them and still they remain ephemeral visions, like those from my other life as a soldier...those moments when we assembled before the beginning of morning nautical twilight, trying to find our way into the known. Now, years later, images form and reform out of the mist of what was reality, steeped in a quarter-century of impure memory. They tease and nag. They ebb and flow. What triggers them and what solid states they will ultimately take, if any, remain a mystery even to me. When a sculpture emerges, I am as astonished as anyone. If nothing lasting develops, the journey through the minefield transforms me nonetheless. At times we need to tell the story simply for the sake of the tellling.